"Older" candidates at the Big 4

CPA Exam Forum Accounting Careers & Designations Big 4 Accounting "Older" candidates at the Big 4

This topic contains 41 replies, has 28 voices, and was last updated by crazyleon crazyleon 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Any other success stories of those that are “older” than 30 and working at Big 4 with a successful career?

    I know I already answered, but me :).

    Anyone start at Big 4 as a “second career”?

    Yes, I was a high school teacher and left teaching to become an accountant. I was recruiting from my accounting degree program to one of the big 4.

    What benefits and challenges did you find convincing Big 4 to hire you and why?

    I was worried that since I was a mom of 2 and older than most of the candidates coming out of school that they would be reluctant to hire me. I'm outgoing and I love to teach. Since teaming and teaching is such a large part of my job now, I just played to my skill set and that is what helped me land the job.

    Did you have a specialty in mind when you when to the Big 4?

    Yes, I knew I wanted to be in tax services and that is where I am currently.

    Any other tidbits you wish to share about being older and working at Big 4?

    It may be different in audit, but a lot of my peers are “older” (late 20s-early 30s) because they have masters in tax or a law degree of some kind. If you take age of the table as an issue, then it won't be an issue. One of my closest friends at work is 23. Would we hang out outside of work? Probably not, but we connect well professionally and work well together. I'm 7yrs his senior. It's just not an issue at all for me.

    Now that you worked at a Big 4, would you reconsider and instead work at Regional Firm and why or why not?

    I would highly recommend big 4. I love my job. It challenges me and I'm constantly learning. I can't imagine going to a regional firm at this stage of the game (I'm being promoted to senior this Oct.) but I'm not opposed to it at some point. I'm definitely glad I started w/ a big 4 though. I feel like the world is my oyster and that I can basically go anywhere from my firm.

    Do Big 4 have an age cut-off? Rumor has it that they do more than Regionals?

    I started at age 29, one of my colleagues from school started w/ a big 4 in her early 50s. I don't know of any cutoff and it doesn't look like there is one from my perspective. But I'm just 1 tax accountant at one of the big 4.



    Any other success stories of those that are “older” than 30 and working at Big 4 with a successful career?

    Started at 29, 30 now.

    Anyone start at Big 4 as a “second career”?

    Nope. Many jobs, first career.

    What benefits and challenges did you find convincing Big 4 to hire you and why?

    Not many challenges really. Don't look older than my peers, which helps. Benefits was that I think I came across more confident. I also actually have experiences to talk about. The 22-23 yr old version of myself would probably not have as many interesting things happen to him. Also, I could relate to the Seniors and Managers a bit better because of my age in terms of marriage, kids, etc.. In the end, I was better off because of that. They usually are more involved in recruiting decisions than a first or second year staff.

    Did you have a specialty in mind when you when to the Big 4?

    Umm.audit? That's really it.

    Any other tidbits you wish to share about being older and working at Big 4?

    Seniors are about my age or younger (depending on their level). Managers are either a year older or a few years older. So as a First year staff, I really connected well with all of my team members. It's actually pretty funny when you all start talking about favorite movies and music. I throw out stuff and it always catches them by surprise how old school my choices are

    Now that you worked at a Big 4, would you reconsider and instead work at Regional Firm and why or why not?

    Hard to say. I'm in a good situation right now, schedule and client wise, but I know some of my peers work hellish hours. Still, I think my experience is great, and I enjoy the constant challenges I'm faced with. I think with today's market and assuming the future improves, I feel like one can always work at a regional, network, and make a move to the Big 4 as an experienced hire. So, I think that short term, there's not much difference. However, the Big 4 name always holds more sway than a Regional. So, I would only go to a Regional if I was making the move to a Big 4 later. Or if I was coming from a Big 4 already.

    Do Big 4 have an age cut-off? Rumor has it that they do more than Regionals?

    Hmmm…it's a bit tricky. I think the older you get the more is expected of you in terms of polish, professionalism, personal brand, etc. I knew a 35 year old who interview along with me and got rejected by all the big 4 after the first interview. However, I could tell he just wasn't a good fit and maybe they thought the same. For being 35, he didn't come off as confident, and just seemed like he would struggle in the audit setting. I've also met plenty of 30+ people in my firm, so I know older people are being hired.

    So yah….limited experience tells me that 30-36 is doable if you can fit in. It also helps if you look a bit younger. For any older than that…hmm I don't know.

    Personally, if a person is qualified, and I feel like they could be a fit, then I would hire them, regardless of age. I mean, most people leave after 2-3 years anyhow. So the whole argument of “we hire to make an investment and younger workers are more likely to stay longer and work longer for the company” is baseless in a big 4 firm IMO.

    But if I had to guess, I think older candidates have a hard time getting recruited because they just can't connect with recruiters or audit recruiting teams. So,it's less of a “he's old, let's not hire him” and more like, “man this guy/lady just seems like she wouldn't fit in. We couldn't even hold a two minute conversation. How awkward.”.

    My .02



    I was 29 when I got into Big4 as first year associate. I had already passed 3 of CPA exams (plus MBA from state college) which I believe played bigger role in getting me hired. As jmp223 mentioned, it was tough indeed. Not all the time, but during some projects with younger seniors who were so cocky that I doubted my choice of going into Big4. But, I overcame all of it, and got my lesson.



    Hello Mayo and Hurshid,

    It is motivating to know that there are chances to start as associates at Big 4 for people who have passed mid 20s. I posted a question on how to get to Big 4 on another website and was told that, if I was past my early to mid 20s, I should consider another path as I would be considered “old” for Big 4.

    Could you two please share how you got an interview with Big 4? For Mayo, you said that you started as first year staff. Did you apply online or through networking? For Hurshid, did you apply from your university's career center or networking as well?

    What kind of experience did you have before starting at Big 4? Can you please specify the number of years of experience and your job title? Were the companies that you were with small or medium sized?

    I feel that I'm in a difficult situation to get into audit. I have passed the CPA exam. However, I have bookkeeping and not accounting experience, let alone audit. I don't have a good GPA in college either. There was a staff accountant job from a regional firm that I applied to. I was able to get a phone interview but was not selected for the next round and I felt that my low GPA played a role in it.

    I'm trying to get into audit now but there hasn't been an open door for somebody with no pubic accounting experience. I guess that if I keep trying, I could start small and slowly advance. But time is valuable and I want to be something before I become an older bookkeeper :).

    Any feedback/advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!


    Here's an interesting video from EY that I think answers some of your questions. This is a fictional account I assume, but the message they send is clear.


    I haven't started, but I was hired at the old-fart age of 30. I don't know how this is going to pan out. But I interviewed with a Senior (4th year) that was 6 years older than me. Most of the people that I met last year during recruiting have since left the firm, but I checked Linkedin, and that 36 year old is still working there. He definitely started at age 32, so it's possible.



    Any advice for a 30 year old who has close to 4 years of tax experience in a mid sized bank but a 2.79 GPA from undergrad who wants to switch to audit in Big 4? Any chance? Unfortunately the career path in tax doesn't coincide with my long term goals. Instead audit will take me much closer. But I would have to go back to entry level basically…



    @cpaornot: low gap will be a challenge factor to overcome in getting noticed. Passing the CPA will help you immensely since gap is basically used to judge your ability to pass the CPA exam (among other soft factors). Start networking with recruiters. Easy to find anyone on LinkedIn, but preferable to meet some people live so you can really make an impression.

    Let them know your interest, goals, and ask for advice to overcome Amy shortcomings you may have. If someone you meet comes across as genuine, try and start that relstionship. Contrary to popular belief, not all Big4 are d-bags. 🙂 but it is a numbers game, and timing is also important. Assuming you pass your exams by early next year, you should definitely try and get in the running for a summer/fall start. Good luck!



    Thanks fuzyfro! I pray that I can finish my exam by January. Just took AUD, still waiting for score. But I gotta say don't think I ever studied this hard in my life. Sometimes I wish I can go back and kick myself in the head. Should've studied more and partied less during college.



    I got internship offers from two Big 4 firms after working in construction for the last 15 years. I am 30 years old, left construction and went to community college in Mississippi. I am now studying Accounting at The University of Memphis where I have O.K grades (3.20 overall and 3.66 in accounting). What has made me stand out the most is a strong work history, and community service record. If you are lacking in grades because you have bills (I have a mortgage), make sure you are VERY active in the community. Become involved in everything you can, and stressing the fact that you work full-time while in college helps. I think firms such as these want to see a strong motivating factor behind the individual, and as long as you are able to put your ego aside and work for somebody younger than yourself, you will find success. Also, I have to credit the U of M for helping with interviews. I did several mock-interviews, and spent hours and hours perfecting my interview skills and case study skills. Being able to speak clearly, and concisely is a MUST. Do not assume “you got this”. Practice your one-min elevator speech, keeping calm during an interview, and practice speaking slowly. I am rooting for anybody who is going through this process, its tough but you can do it! Don't let the nay-sayers get you down. I was homeless at age 16, never graduated HS and ended up getting my GED at age 23. Statistically speaking I shouldn't be here. Persistence, HARD WORK, and eliminating distractions (i.e. TV, Facebook, etc.) are key. Good luck!!



    I find that highly untrue. At Big 4, you get people coming in from different ages with different backgrounds (ie: some individuals who switched careers to accounting at a late age). Although Big 4 does tend to younger candidates, the one thing that older candidates can offer that younger ones can't is that they already know what they want. I believe most older candidates tend to stay a lot longer than their younger counterparts mainly because they have a set goal, and the younger ones tend to flop out after one busy season or two. Further, your mind is a lot more mature and can provide a different perspective. Diversity is key to providing balance amongst individuals.

    For someone to quit their position, because they can't handle someone younger in a higher role is pretty petty. Work is work – you sometimes get this in industry (I would assume). At the end of the day, no one cares as long as you meet your deadlines and provide quality deliverables.



    I was 28 when I got my summer internship at a big 4, through university recruiting. I feel that the fact I had accounting related experience helped me get the job (I worked for a small CPA firm).
    Even though most of my starting class was younger, I do know that it is possible to be recruited on your late 20's early 30's. I met 2 other people who started at 29 and 32. You just need to play your strengths, like any other candidate.

    I'm yet to start working full time, but I have to say I am a bit nervous due to the long hours and wanting to grow a family as well as a career.

    AUD - NINJA in Training
    BEC - NINJA in Training
    FAR - NINJA in Training
    REG - NINJA in Training
    "I didn't come this far only to come this far"

    That's exactly why I have no desire to work for Big 4. I'm 40, I have worked with people much younger (10+ years) than myself, and much older (25+ years) than myself.
    While some of the younger ones are mature, most are not. I would not want a 25-32 year old as my boss. I don't think anyone would. Now, I've never been anyone's boss but
    I have *trained* people who were in their 40s or 50s when I was in my 20s and 30s. I think it worked because I wasn't their boss. If I had been, it would have been a bad situation and I know they would've quit eventually. While I don't mind being assisted/helped by someone way younger than me who knows more than I do about a particular thing, I would not want to report to them.

    I actually started this very topic on Reddit about a year ago. About 30 people lambasted the shit out of me and called me a lot of names LOL. They also, obviously, said “You would not be good on an audit team, you'd be hated if you were always undermining your colleagues or the senior on the audit.” Yeah, if the senior was 32 years old, I'd be in Hell.

    I'm staying in private, and will never be in public.

    "Live and sometimes learn." -J.H.
    "If you walk out of Prometric crying, you passed the CPA exam." -C.L.
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